Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

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chrism mass 17 5402 webArchbishop Leonard P. Blair consecrates the sacred chrism, oil of the sick and oil of the catechumens during the annual Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford on April 11. The oils, used in the administration of the sacraments throughout the year, were distributed to parish representatives after the Mass. (Photo by Karen O. Bray)

HARTFORD – Archbishop Leonard P. Blair used his homily at the Chrism Mass to remind the faithful that all members of the Body of Christ are called to evangelize.

The liturgy in the sun-drenched cathedral on April 12 was both solemn and joyous, prefaced by majestic music as a long line of priests and men and women religious preceded the archbishop to prepare to celebrate the annual sacred rites.

The Chrism Mass is one of the principal manifestations of the fullness of the bishop’s priesthood; it signifies the close unity of the priests with him. During the Mass, priests renew their commitment to priestly service, with the support and prayers of the whole assembly.

The Mass takes its name from the most eminent of three holy oils, the sacred chrism. After the Mass, representatives from parishes across the archdiocese are given portions of the oils for use in their parishes.

During the liturgy, the archbishop consecrated the oil of chrism and blessed the oil of the catechumens and the oil of the sick. “Chrism” takes its name from “Christ,” which means “the anointed one.”

Sacred chrism is used in the conferral of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, to anoint the hands of presbyters and the heads of bishops at their ordinations, and in the consecration of churches and altars.

Before blessing the oils, the archbishop said that the Church’s prayer is that the oils will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit can transcend space and time and it is he who leads us ever more deeply into the glorified body of Christ and therefore to the Father,” he said.

He reminded those present that the Church ‘is a people made one with the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

He said society today is calling the Church to evangelization.

“In the face of social, cultural and ecclesiastical upheaval, we are waking to the urgency of evangelization, to announce, bear witness, make present and spread the mystery of the communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

“It’s everyone’s challenge to be a missionary disciple,” he said.

Archbishop Blair also referred to the challenges of the continuing work of pastoral planning within the Archdiocese of Hartford.

He said that he will again ask the Archdiocese of Hartford to participate in a novena of prayer on the nine days leading up to Pentecost Sunday.

“It is our desire for a new Pentecost in our time, in our Archdiocese of Hartford, in our world.”

The archbishop thanked the more than 200 priests who concelebrated the Mass before recommitting themselves to priestly service.

, “At this historical moment of archdiocesan pastoral planning, I am especially grateful to those of our priests in the Archdiocese of Hartford who are planning, reassuring and serving as positive leaders to their parishes, easing anxieties and helping them to move forward,” he said.

Principal concelebrants were Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin; Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell; Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso; Father Steven C. Boguslawski, moderator of the curia; Father James A. Shanley, episcopal vicar and rector of the cathedral; Father John J. Georgia and Father Christopher M. Ford, episcopal vicars; Father George S. Mukuka, judicial vicar; and Father Robert B. Vargas, vicar for clergy.

Sheila Keenan and Lillian Lopez, members of the Cathedral of St. Joseph Parish, attended the Mass together.

“The Chrism Mass is beautiful,” said Ms. Keenan, adding, “To be here with all the priests and everyone from the archdiocese is so nice, to celebrate this liturgy and the blessing of the oils together.”

Ms. Lopez said she attends the Chrism Mass annually and finds it very moving.

For the Dimodugno family from Our Lady of Pompeii Parish in East Haven, “the feeling of gratitude for the spiritual warriors [priests] who keep us all safe gets stronger every year we come,” said Mary Katherine Dimodugno. She was there with her husband Lewis and their four children, Grace, 20; Blaise, 17; Francis, 17; and Lewis, 11.

Theresa Bisson, of St. George Parish in Guilford, said that the Chrism Mass always evokes for her a special sense of closeness to St. Thérèse of Lisieux
“It’s a mini-retreat for me,” she said. “My patron saint, St. Thérèse, prays for priests. Her mission was love, but she had such a great devotion for the sacrament of the priesthood, and I cherish that. My first prayers are for priests, and this Mass of Chrism just epitomizes everything.”

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.